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Anonymity and building my personal brand

A few bloggers have written posts about anonymity in blogging. I’ve decided to jump on board because it is something I’ve been thinking about for the past little while. Unlike many PF bloggers, however, blogging is very much tied to my career.

A background 

I admit I’m fairly elusive on my blog. I haven’t given you guys many details on who I really am or what I do aside from the fact that I’m in communications full time. I know you’ve all been dying to know more, so here goes. Out of university, I was an economics/accounting major (nerd alert!) and went into the field full time for 1.5 years. I knew pretty quickly that I needed a change. I decided to go into communications after finding a college postgraduate program that seemed really interesting, had a great reputation, and also seemed to have great career prospects. Since completing the program, I’ve been interning for the past year and gaining as much experience as I can.

…But something is missing. Those of us in communications know that personal branding is key. I had a go at this last summer after starting my first internship, and started a personal wellness blog. This was short lived, so I guess I really didn’t care about personal wellness. Let’s face it folks, I haven’t exercised in ages and I often eat junk food like it’s my job. I am no authority on being healthy. The thing is, that blog was public. I had decent readership only because my 400+ friends on Facebook were being blitzed with all my new posts. My personal Twitter was also linked to it. I was easy to find and I guess I had started to develop a personal brand.

Upon the death of that blog, I started this one. I knew it was a topic I had immense interest in, as I was vigourously paying off my debt and reading tons of PF blogs. I decided to remain anonymous because I didn’t want all my friends to know that I was broke. I mean after all, I was 27 and half my friends were married and saving for houses or buying their own places while I was in debt.

Personal branding

Flash forward to today. I have a super famous blog with millions of followers. Ok, not true BUT I’ve found a niche that I like and everyday I’m surprised that people actually read me. I try to write regularly and I’ve been trying to engage more on Twitter. In short, I’m building a personal brand. But what good is this brand if no one even knows who I am? Am I really building a brand if I’m simply a nameless, faceless online caricature? I mean no disrespect to all the other anonymous bloggers out there because I completely get why you (and I!) do it. In my case, however, I just think that the work I put into running my blog should be linked to my personal brand.

Anonymous me!

Career progression

Why do I care about my personal brand? Two words: career progression. Ever since switching fields, I’ve known that I have to work twice as hard. It’s a competitive field with arguably little-to-no barriers to entry. The experience I gain through internships is key, but so is my personal brand. I know this because I interviewed for a job with a PR agency that happens to be a fantastic employer. In passing, I mentioned my blog and the interviewer was intrigued and wanted to see the blog. I voluntarily divulged the information because I wanted her to see that I was actively writing about something that interested me and could effectively utilize social media to engage with readers. Unfortunately I didn’t get the job, but they were nice enough to remember me and called me in for another interview. This time I also mentioned my ‘alter ego’ and the fact that you’ll find me tweeting more through that than through my personal Twitter. Sure enough, he had looked up my personal Twitter prior to the meeting. I’m glad I mentioned it because to the unknowing eye, my ‘real life’ brand is fairly stagnant: little Twitter activity and no blog. Why hide the fact that I do in fact have an active online identity?

When I say career progression, I also mean freelance opportunities. I will soon be published on a popular blog and I recently redid the content for the entire website of the company I currently work for, including blog posts. I would love to link my blog to all this content!

Conclusions?

Sorry guys! Haven’t come to any. These are just the thoughts running through my over-active little mind. In terms of relationships with other bloggers, I know that some of us can’t take each other seriously when there is no real identity attached. And I’ll admit I do feel a more personal connection to a blogger when I know their name and face. Going back to the very reason I decided to be anonymous, I’m no longer in debt – YAY. I don’t do spending or net worth updates like some bloggers do, and I most certainly wouldn’t with everyone I know reading my blog. So do I really have anything to hide anymore?

Is personal branding important in your line of work? If you’re anonymous, have you thought of ‘coming out’?

How will going from red to black affect my blog?

Gail Vaz-Oxlade would be so proud of me. I went from (reckless Princess) slightly spendy to downright frugal and showed my debt who’s boss. I must say, being debt-free for the first time in my adult life feels great.

Woot!

That being said, I feel like I’ve harped on my debt for long enough and inadvertently turned this blog into a Dear Diary of sorts. As a result, I feel like I’m not relating to readers as well as I should be and I’d like to change that by talking less about me, me, me and more about topics that affect everyone. But of course infused with a bit of me, me, me. 😉

Unlike some of the bloggers I love reading, I haven’t shown a true commitment to the art. I blog when I want to, and sometimes it’s pretty sporadic. I don’t think this is going to fly if I want to become a legit blogger so I’m going to have to stick to some sort of schedule as well. I’m also not so into the monthly goals and spending reports, etc. but I think that’s okay! In all honestly, I’m not sure what this blog will evolve into. Maybe it will become part PF, part life, and part everything in between. Maybe it won’t even be PF at all. Right now I’m just going to stop worrying and let it grow organically.

Will I ever be a big time blogger with thousands of readers? Maybe, maybe not. Probably not. That’s okay too. Right now I’m just happy to have my own little corner of the internet where I can say what I want and connect with great people.

I know this is a bit of a random post but I just wanted to give you guys a quick update. Hope you’re all enjoying the summer!

I don’t really know what I want out of blogging

As some of you have probably noticed, I’m pretty new to the whole blogging scene, having written my first post in December (I think!). I’ve really loved connecting with other bloggers and *gasp* discovering that I’m not the only one facing this whole journey out of debthood. But lately I’ve been wondering what I want out of blogging. I’ve noticed some of my favourite bloggers becoming wildly successful and it’s fantastic. They’ve put in the hard work and are beginning to see the fruits of their labour. Will I ever reach that level of awesome? Do I want to? Or am I content in my little corner of the blogosphere?

Do I want a bajillion readers each and every day? Do I want to make some money? (umm who doesn’t?!) If so, I definitely need to be doing more than what I’m doing – which is posting sporadically, commenting when I feel like and generally just not putting a ton of effort into the whole thing. When I started blogging, I did it for a few reasons:

1. I love writing and I wanted to practice.

2. I wanted to hold myself accountable for my finances.

3. I wanted to document my journey.

4. I wanted to help inspire and motivate others in debt.

5. I wanted to maybe MAYBE create a stream of passive income along the way.

For reasons 1 through 4, I think I can truck along as usual but if I DO want to create some sort of income, I will have to kick it up a few notches. I just don’t know if I’m ready to do that.

If you blog, why do you blog? What do want out of it? I’d love to know!

The countdown is on…

$1062.49

That’s the magic number.

The number that will solve all of my problems.

…not really, but it sure will make my life a little bit easier.

The number that will make my life complete.

…okay, maybe just one step towards completion. But a big step!

It’s the number that makes me rich break even!

Today I called up the student loan centre and asked what my total loan amount will be as at May 11, 2012. The nice man told me $1062.49. And there you have it. The number standing between me and student-loan-freeness. I also asked if I would be receiving a letter confirmation and he said I would indeed receive something within a week to congratulate me. That’s a letter I will be keeping in full view to remind me everyday of what I can do when I set my mind to something.

I’ve also noticed some nice little numbers on this here bloggy which makes me extremely grateful that people are actually interested in my journey to debt-freedom (and beyond). Thanks so much for reading, commenting, and generally being awesome. You rock!

Please get me a bucket for the tears of joy I may be crying in a week + 2 days from now!

LF

Get me a coffee please! (LF on internships)

It was only after I graduated from my postgraduate program last year that I had to face the dreaded word: internships. Up until that point, I had never considered doing one because I worked full-time out of university. Fast forward one year and I’m completing my second one.

Please pay me...

Internships are a funny thing. You’re the lowest rung of the corporate ladder and you’re sometimes unpaid or at least poorly paid. Having worked full-time for almost two years beforehand, I had to swallow a LOT of pride to take on an internship. Unfortunately in my new field, it is a rarity to get a job straight out of school without having to take on at least one. I’ve decided to talk about them today because going from a full-time job (dental plan!) to an intern job can be difficult. Now that I have several months of experience with them, there are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way that I wish I knew when I started.

Swallow your pride

Like I said, this was a huge one for me. You may be used to being the Queen/King Bee at school, at previous jobs or amongst your friends but here, you are at the very bottom. I mean, the office hamster probably has more seniority than you. This doesn’t mean you aren’t worth something, but it does mean you have to work hard to prove yourself even if it means motoring through some tedious tasks. Stay positive because this is simply a stepping stone.

Mr. McHamperston, Senior Manager

Take initiative

It’s important for your boss to see that you are enthusiastic and willing to take on new challenges. People won’t always give you challenging tasks voluntarily, but if you start proving that you can take on more than what is given to you, you’ll start getting noticed.

Start with goals

Goal-setting is always important and in this case, it isn’t a bad idea to go into your internship with specific things that you want to get out of it. Speak to your boss about your goals and ensure that you keep them in the loop. Not only will they be impressed that you have a plan but they’ll try to throw opportunities your way that will fulfil your learning objectives. My boss is great this way and always tries to throw me tasks that I might find interesting and challenging.

Network

This is a topic that has probably been beaten to death but there’s a reason for that! Networking is key and when you’re an intern, you have the opportunity to meet a range of people in your chosen field. Try to get to know as many people as possible because even if you don’t end up staying on, you never know where your next opportunity will come from.

Show interest

You may work somewhere and you may be doing a terrific job, but if you boss doesn’t know that you would love to work there, you may be passed up for opportunities that arise. It’s important to connect with your boss on a regular basis and let him or her know that you are very interested in an opportunity to stay on. If you see specific opportunities open up that match your skill set, let your boss know immediately before they even start looking at other candidates!

Seek out learning opportunities

For instance, I know that in my field, media relations is a skill that often shows up in postings. I’m fortunate enough to work somewhere that offers this service so I make a point of connecting with the media relations manager and trying to learn as much from him as possible. If you have an interest in planning events, see who in your organization is running an event and try to assist with the logistics. People are generally willing to lend a helping hand.

Pay me please! Oh wait, I'm already filthy rich.

Finally, of course there is the issue of salary. As much as I despise unpaid internships and believe its completely unethical and exploitative, opportunities often come in unpaid packages. I initially refused to take an unpaid internship but eventually had to succumb to one that paid a grossly low monthly stipend. The thing is, some of the people in my program refused to do it because they couldn’t afford to but ended up not working for months anyway. In the meantime, I had an internship under my belt and made extra money by working a side job.

It’s easy to get down on yourself when you’re an intern but like I said in my last post, everything is what you make it. You could think of yourself as a low-paid, unappreciated intern or you could think of yourself as a bright, enthusiastic individual who is taking the perfect beginning steps to the career of their dreams. I choose the latter.

Have you ever done an internship? If so, how was your experience? Would love to hear! 

Dear debt-ary

Dear debt-ary,

It has been a fun ride. We’ve spent an enjoyable few several years together. You helped me get through university and even funded a drink (or ten). You waited patiently while I traveled far and wide. In fact, you encouraged me because you knew it meant you could stick around longer and grow. If only I were as smart as you, debt-ary.

You saw me through good times and bad. You waited and waited while I looked for my first job out of university. In fact, you even agreed not to grow for a few months. You waited once again while I went back to school. Now you’re back. This time I’m ready for this relationship to end.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, and my early 20s would not have been the same without you. You afforded me luxuries that I wouldn’t have been able to indulge in without you. More importantly, you afforded me an education. For that I thank you. But now it’s time to go. In two short months, I am wiping you out forever. I’ll be replacing you with a new friend named savings and I have a feeling this relationship will be a lot less toxic.

Once again, thank you and goodbye.

LF

‘Tell me something interesting about yourself’

As some of you may know, I just started a new job at the beginning of January. Next week, we have a town hall meeting and as a new staff member I’ve been asked to write a short bio. Of course this bio should include ‘something interesting about yourself that other staff members may want to know.’ I’ve always hated this question because I automatically think that there is nothing interesting about me. I got to thinking and actually, yes! There are lots of interesting things about me. Since I’m generally pretty enigmatic, I thought I would  share some of them on this here bloggy:

  • I once hiked a 100km trail in 32 hours to raise money for charity.
  • I sky dived for the first time in Victoria B.C. and it was exhilarating. I would do it again!
  • I spent a month in Paris last summer on a whim. It was incredible but lonely at the same time.
  • I discovered I suffer from sea sickness when I puked in the Pacific Ocean years ago. On the plus side, I saw a small shark in that very ocean while scuba diving!
  • I once had a shot of Ouzo lit on fire…in my mouth.

As I reflect on some of my cool experiences, I notice that the bulk of them occurred while on my various travels. As much as I despise my debt, I don’t regret funnelling my money into travelling in my early 20s. It was (is) a passion and besides the whole not having money thing, my early 20s were the perfect time to do it. Now that I’m in a committed relationship, I probably wouldn’t pick up and leave on a moment’s notice.

As I get closer to the debt finish line, I realize that it could have come a lot sooner. But so what? I would have been a few bucks richer and a lifetime of experiences poorer. Although I may not be a saucy vixen like Madonna, we definitely agree on one thing: Absolutely no regrets.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve done?